‘Ladbrokes Life’ posters banned for endorsing irresponsible attitudes to gambling

Two Ladbrokes poster ads have been banned by the ad watchdog, which ruled that if the outdoor element was viewed in isolation of the bookmaker’s wider TV and digital push, they could “condone an irresponsible attitude to gambling”.

Ladbrokes posters
One of the Ladbrokes poster ads banned by the ASA.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) took issue with the outdoor element of the current “Ladbrokes Life” push, which showcased a profile of each of the five “betting men” characters from the TV and video ads (see below).

The watchdog banned two of the posters, which contained the statements “When you win it’s skill – when you lose it’s bad luck” and “Once is luck – twice is talent” ruling that they may appear to endorse an irresponsible attitude towards gambling when isolated from the story in the TV and video ads.

The wider campaign sparked 98 complaints, the majority of which challenged whether the ads breached the advertising code because they portrayed socially irresponsible gambling behaviour that could lead to financial, social or emotional harm.

Other objections to the ads included: portraying gambling as indispensable; suggesting peer pressure to gamble; suggesting gambling could enhance personal qualities; and portraying gambling in the context of “toughness”.

The ASA acknowledged the parallels between the opening scene of the TV and video ads (above) with the credit sequence of cult film “Reservoir Dogs”. It was also concerned with some aspects of the descriptions of the characters, which the regulator said “carried an element of bravado” and could suggest gambling was an aspirational way of life.

In spite of this initial concern, it ruled that given the tongue-in-cheek style of the TV and video ads, most viewers would understand the “mock-heroic” intent of the voiceover and would not interpret the ads to imply gambling would lead to admiration or an enhancement of personal qualities.

Additional complaints arguing the campaign was irresponsible because it could be seen by under 18s and separate complaints challenging whether the ads should be banned because they linked gambling to seduction, sexual success or enhanced attractiveness were not upheld by the regulator.

In response to the ruling a Ladbrokes spokesman said: “Ladbrokes Life is a major re-launch of our brand and the customer reaction has been very positive. It was never our intention to push any boundaries but will act immediately to comply with the findings in relation to two posters.

“We remain committed to our advertising meeting all the correct standards and take seriously our obligation to target responsible gambling messages as evidenced by our own dedicated responsible gambling advert, a first for the industry”

The ruling comes in the same week Ladbrokes – alongside William Hill, Coral and Paddy Power – set up a new self-regulatory gambling industry body to quell concern from politicians and the public about levels of excessive gambling.

The Senet Group, as it is known, took out full-page ads across the national press yesterday (15 September) outlining their pledge to prohibit pre-watershed TV ads carrying the enticement of free bets and free money. 

Video: Ladbrokes Life TV ad

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here